It has towered above the windswept farmlands of Dungeness for nearly 120 years and age and the elements have taken their toll on the historical Dungeness Schoolhouse.
While the two-story structure remains a vibrant community resource year-round as the site of programs and events, a crumbling concrete foundation and peeling paint reveal a weather-worn building. Those challenges are being remedied, however, as a major exterior renovation of the historical building is under way.
The project to repair the Dungeness Schoolhouse, at 2781 Towne Road near Sequim and owned and operated by the Museum & Arts Center in the Sequim-Dungeness Valley, began in early June and is scheduled to last into July. Port Angeles-based Northwest Inside Out Painting Inc. is contracted to complete the project and any interference with Dungeness Schoolhouse programming and events will be minimal, said MAC Executive Director DJ Bassett.
Most of the project funding has come through private contributions and several years of grass roots campaigning by the MAC, including fundraisers such as the Christmas Tea & Bake Sale held annually at the schoolhouse, the MAC Nite fund-a-need special auction and the Readers Theatre Plus benefit dinner theater production of “Murder Most Fowl” last February.
“Seeing how exceedingly generous and giving the public has been toward preserving such a rare gem of historical importance as the Dungeness Schoolhouse has been very moving,” Bassett said.
Rodda Paint in Sequim is donating 70 gallons of dark red paint for the trim, which will include two coats on all window and door casings, fascias and the building’s concrete base, which will restore the schoolhouse’s original color scheme. The body of the building will be painted off-white.
“It’s exciting. I’ve been getting a lot of feedback in the community that it’s going to have more style. It was kind of benign the other way,” said Josh Gloor, who works for the Dungeness-based Nash’s Organic Produce and lives within eyesight of the Dungeness Schoolhouse. “You could never see all that fine gingerbread woodwork when it’s all the same color.”
The project is the latest step in the MAC’s continuing commitment to preserve the historical schoolhouse, which was built in 1892 and operated as a school until 1955. Previous maintenance projects included repairing the building’s distinctive belfry, building an ADA access ramp in 2006 and performing fire code and safety upgrades earlier this year.
“This project is part of an ongoing effort to maintain the structure to its highest possible levels so we can preserve it for future generations,” Bassett said. “Doing so is in line with our mission of serving as the steward of Sequim’s cultural heritage.”
Bassett also said the MAC is planning to host a public open house in late summer or early fall to celebrate the completion of the project. The exact date has yet to be announced.
Additional information about the Dungeness Schoolhouse, including its history and event rental details, can be found on the MAC website at www.macsequim.org.